Now this is an amazing route!
A couple of kilometres from Thones is a turn up a very steep, quiet road to the little-known Col de Plan Bois (not in my cycling bible). Surrounded by high Alps, the views are amazing. It averages 10% for about 6 kilometres (4 miles) – and is extremely steep in stretches.
I was riding my hybrid bike in case of ice. And was soon glad I did. At the top, the other side was under a foot of snow. So I jogged for about a kilometre downhill until finding a cleared road.
A hair-raising decent and then the route joins the classic way up Col de la Croix Fry below Manigod.
Col de la Croix Fry was the last climb in the gigantic 2004 Tour stage 17 won by Armstong by less than a second over Kloden
This part of the route had a few cars as there is a ski station at the top – but just a superb climb. At the very top is quick 10 minute detour to the Col de Merdassier.
Enlarge the middle thumbnail photo above. On the top of the sign is a borne velodateur. Basically, you can stamp a time card (from the tourist office well below in Thones) when you reach the top – after stamping it at the bottom – to record you time and route completion.
I thought the below photo was pretty clever given that I was on my own!
I have a new video cam. No idea yet how to properly/interestingly use it – but here is a small clip.